Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

SDSU Grad Q&A: Martha Rodriguez

The College of PSFA is highlighting students who have secured a job, internship, or graduate school placement after commencement this year.

SDSU Grad Q&A: Martha Rodriguez

Martha Rodriguez

by Aleah Jarin

May 12, 2021

Martha Rodriguez

School of Theatre, Television, and Film

Major: Television, Film, and New Media

Hometown: San Diego, California

1. Can you describe a little bit about yourself and what led you to pursue television, film, and new media as an area of study?

As a daughter of immigrant parents from Guanajuato, Mexico, I am proud to say that I am a first-generation, Mexican-American director and screenwriter. As a first-generation, I have become the bridge between cultures and the translator for my parents to navigate various systems in the U.S. I decided to change my major as an incoming freshman to television, film, and new media (TFM) and petition to be in the production major because I began to realize there has been a lack of diversity on and off the screen. I wanted to be able to represent my family and the LatinX community through bilingual storytelling and embracing our roots, to tell stories about family, empowerment, and identity. Hoping that people that look like me would be able to identify with the stories and characters that look like them on screen.

2. When did you decide to pursue graduate studies and what did that process entail?

I decided to pursue graduate studies from the day I got accepted into the TFM production program the first semester of my sophomore year. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to have mentors that were MFA students, faculty, and staff throughout my four years here at SDSU that took the time to help me research, organize, practice, and support me with my academic and artistic portfolio and interview for each graduate school. I am also really grateful that the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) supported and encouraged me to continue my higher education to expand my knowledge of the film industry and creative vision, but also to continue following my passion for filmmaking and storytelling.

3. When did you receive your graduate program acceptance and what was your reaction?

I was really excited to hear back from the University of Southern California in the first week of March, and hear that I would have the opportunity to attend their Television and Film Production MFA Program at the School of Cinematic Arts. To this day I am still in shock that I will be attending my dream school. I still remember the day I was notified, it was a memorable and special day for my family as I am one step closer to achieving my goal of more diversity in the film industry, whether it is live-action or animation. Every story deserves to be heard. I am very excited to cultivate and be part of a new community and explore different avenues and forms of filmmaking.

4. What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jumpstart their career post-graduation?

One thing I’ve learned by being a Latina Filmmaker, it is very important to keep your head up. In this competitive industry (this can be any competitive industry as well) many will say no and many will reject one’s ideas, projects, or jobs. However, don’t let these setbacks stop you from achieving your goals and dreams. Keep on applying, keep on creating, keep building, because someone will say “yes” and all you need is one person to say “yes” to jump-start your passion. Or what my mom would say, *“cuando una puerta se cierra, otra se abre, pero cuando todas las puertas se cierran, se queda una ventana abierta, y se encuentra una oportunidad” because it is really important to never give up on one’s dream even when one feels they have tried everything. (*Translation: when one door closes, another one opens, but when all the doors are closed, there is always a window open to find your opportunity.)

5. What is it that you are most looking forward to as you kick start this next chapter? How did SDSU prepare you for success not only at the university but after graduation?

I am looking forward to continuing to create new film projects while collaborating with diverse students, faculty, and staff. Yet, also as a mentor, I hope to be able to come back and give back to my community by sharing the knowledge and resources I’ve gained during my MFA program. I am also very excited about creating new memorable moments and lasting friendships and networks similar to how I did here at SDSU. The Theater, Television, and Film Department and EOP have prepared me for success through their support that has given me the confidence and courage to explore my own voice and creative craft to tell the stories I want to see more behind and on the screen.

6. What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?

An experience at SDSU that has changed my life the most is being a SOAR mentor in the EOP program. I have been a mentor since the fall of 2019 and I am really happy that I have been able to create lasting friendships with my mentees and co-workers that have changed how I view higher education, but also my own life. EOP and SOAR have become a family to me that despite me saying goodbye to them now, does not mean it is forever. Once EOP, always EOP. They have taught me the true definition of passion, resilience, and empowerment as each coordinator, mentor, and student exhibits these traits, as they stand united for what they believe in. Being a mentor has become a large part of my life since I have had the opportunity to mentor students from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. They have taught me many things and given me the honor to see them grow and achieve their goals through the semesters. I decided to become a mentor because my mentors inspired me to give back to my community and I hope that once graduating from SDSU and USC, I can continue doing so no matter where I am.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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